Until recently there were two “third rails” in the field of professional coaching. These were topics that were never to be addressed during a coaching session—nor mentioned in any dialogue among coaches about the struggles they are having in their work. One of these “third rail” themes is money and finances. This is still a forbidden topic—which is one of the reasons why we will soon be devoting an entire issue to this topic. The second forbidden topic has been religion and spirituality. While many founders of the field of professional coaching came to their work as coaches with deeply held religious beliefs, these beliefs were not to be shared with their coaching clients nor were these beliefs to influence the content and strategies of their coaching sessions (unless they have been contracted to do coaching precisely because of their religious beliefs).
This is now all changing regarding spirituality. It is no longer a third rail. For instance, at a summit conference held last year in the state of Maine, senior-level coaches brought the matter of spirituality and coaching to center stage in their deliberations. Furthermore, many of the most successful executive coaches speak about and write about ways in which their own spiritual orientation – be it Christian, Jewish or Buddhist—has informed their practices as a coach. The fundamental reasons that they are serving as a coach are often informed by their religious beliefs or spiritually based values.
It is time for us to look more deeply into what spirituality means, how it impacts the world in which we are engaged as coaches, and the broader perspective we must take in welcoming and entertaining diverse spiritual practices and values. This deeper exploration is particularly important given what is occurring in our deeply troubled mid-21st Century world. This issue of The Future of Coaching is devoted to these important matters regarding spirituality and coaching. Five of the ten essays appearing in this issue have been prepared specifically for this issue, while the other five essays have already been publishing in The Library of Professional Coaching or in The Library of Professional Psychology (our companion library).
What is Spirituality?
This issue begins with an essay written by Veronique Pioch Eberhart (a sociologist specializing in the study of spirituality and coaching). She has directly addressed the fundamental question: what is spirituality and how does it relate to the field of professional coaching.
I have prepared the second essay. It concerns the way someone like me who considers himself to be a “secularist” deals with life experiences that seem to call for a spiritual perspective.1K Club